With a rejuvenated squad, Red Lions beat India 2-1 to restart their Pro League

An excellent return to competition for Belgium in the Pro League with a very promising success against India fielding a rejuvenated team that has shown all the enthusiasm and quality.

VShis first leg in world competition London was a good test for protégé Michel van den Heuvel, 4 months after the World Cup final lost to Germany. First meeting for a rejuvenated group, for the occasion, in the absence of several executives left to rest or because of the playoffs in Germany or the Netherlands, just 3 months from the European Championships in Mönchengladbach. The duel against India is therefore a great opportunity for some to regain their bearings and, for others, to demonstrate their ambition at the core at the start of preparations for these Euros.

Belgium took control of the game but it was their opponents who struck first and Loic Van Doren had to be called upon to avoid the first goal. A fairly even first quarter of an hour ended with the first penalty for the Lions who missed their target. But in the 18th minute, following a penalty, Thibeau Stockbroekx finally opened the scoring and launched his team. A goal that discouraged Belgium which finally showed itself more active. However, it was the Indians who equalized in the 25th minute via a rebound penalty which was converted by Mandeep Singh (1-1).

In the second half, the game was still fun and both teams each got good chances. The Lions were dangerous on several occasions in the penalty shootout but they were unable to find a parade against a good defensive block. The consequence, of course, was the sharp lead from Craig Fulton, a former T2 of our national team, who is now the India coach. 3 minutes before the final whistle, Tanguy Cosyns still had a good chance but his effort was pushed over by the opposing goalkeeper. And finally 73 seconds from the final whistle, on the penalty rebound, Nelson Onana already scored his 3rd goal in the national jersey (in 6 selections). A narrow victory (2-1) but a fair reward for the amount of energy put into this return to the Pro League.

Work on connection and match management

For John-John Dohmen (442 picks), this return is more than positive. “Everyone wants to make a big game, both young and old. We managed to deliver solid blocks with and without the ball when it was our first time playing together. We obviously know that the newcomers are doing very well. We see it every week in training. We have 100% trust in them. They respond to being present in the field and they patiently listen to the advice of their elders. Obviously there are still things to work on, such as connection or match management. We had 2 or 3 moments where we didn’t make the right decision. These are still details to be worked out but all of them have taken big steps forward since they were with us. »

The lessons will therefore be overwhelming for the Belgian staff and for Michel van den Heuvel who, as announced, joined the debate from the podium to experiment with new methods of coaching and observing his students. But the first impression left by this young and experimental team was overwhelming. All of the newcomers have demonstrated that they weren’t there by accident and that they have real arguments to make for the coming months. On Sunday, at 12:30pm, the Red Lions will take on Great Britain before heading back to Belgium and back in the English capital, mid next week, to play the second leg of this duel against India and the home team.

Serena Hoyles

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